By Robert Ward . April 24, 2014 . 5:31pm
At Bandai Namco’s recent Global Gamer’s Day event, Siliconera spoke with General Manager Yusuke Sasaki about the development of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle. This is a fighting game based on the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga and anime series, and—like the name suggests—comes off incredibly zany.
During our conversation, Sasaki provided insight on how JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle tries to recapture the feel of its source material, and Bandai Namco’s hopes for the game in the West.
How did the idea of a JoJo fighting game come about?
Yusuke Sasaki, General Manager: There was a previous game, but this is the first time that CyberConnect2 and Bandai Namco games have paired up to offer their take on the series. The manga has such a unique character pool, and everyone has these crazy abilities in the form of Stands [spirit energy made manifest], and so [we thought] using that in the context of a fighting game might be a really interesting spin on the anime.
Jojo’s had a long run in Japan, but how did the decision to bring it to the West come about?
As you may or may not know, the JoJo manga has come out in several story arcs. The first three arcs have been turned into an anime that’s recently been released in Japan and, starting this month, will be available in the U.S. via Crunchyroll.
The visual style is really unique—like cell shading that’s been sketches instead of painted. How did you determine what the game would look like, visually?
Definitely one of the main draws of JoJo is the incredibly unique and stylish design of its characters. So, the goal of the game’s art direction was to match that while also pairing it with the kind of 3D cel-shaded look modeled by games like Street Fighter IV. We came to the author of JoJo with several different proposals and finally settled on the style in the demo you just played.
I talked to the CEO of CyberConnect2 earlier about how closely the studio works with [Naruto author] Kishimoto-sensei to produce the Ninja Storm games. How closely do you work with Araki?
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle was produced in very close collaboration with Hirohiko Araki and Shueisha, just as Ninja Storm was with Kishimoto. Araki’s feedback was so thorough that he’d often advise us on editing the nuances of a character’s movements.
The characters in JoJo, more than other fighting games, I think, rely on these refined, unique movements to characterize them. Zeppeli is really flamboyant, for example, while Jotaro is cool and composed. Those personality traits needed to come through in the way they’re controlled and they way they carry themselves on screen.
What kind of modes are there in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure?
There’s Story mode, which covers the overall arcs of the manga. There are Versus battles online and offline, and new for the U.S. version is Arcade Mode. Arcade Mode is meant to be an easy to start mode you can drop into as soon as you start the game, reminiscent of some of the older, more traditional fighting games.
JoJo has a large following in Japan, but how do you expect the game to be received in the west?
While we are focusing on the fighting game market as a whole, we’re really targeting the hardcore fighting game crowd. JoJo has a lot of complexities and the characters themselves unique subtleties. There’s been collaboration with pro fighting gamers to tweak the game to a pro level.
We’re aware that there are a lot of fighting game tournaments and championships in the U.S., and we’d really love to see JoJo make it there. For people unfamiliar with the series, I think this is a great starting point. Sure, it’s catered towards the hardcore crowd, but the art style is really appealing and the characters are endearing enough, we think, to appeal to a broader audience.
Is there anything you’d like to tell a more general audience before they pick up the game?
We’re well aware that JoJo doesn’t have anywhere near the same familiarity with an overseas audience as much as it does in Japan, but, we hope that this will be an excellent introduction to people who have never experienced Jojo, and they can enjoy it for its strengths and flashiness, aesthetics, enjoyable and challenging game mechanics, and so on, before moving on to the anime or the manga.